Thursday, December 31, 2009

To review

2000-Dec. 31, 2009:

- Y2K...that was anticlimactic.
- 2000: Graduated from Cromwell High
- June 2002: Got married. New last name acquired.

- January 2003: Had benign bone tumor removed from jaw after confusing multiple dentists.
- April 2004: Graduated from BYU. Major: English
- July 2005: Had a baby boy. Nurses called him the "Miracle Baby" - We call him Will.
- July 2005: Bought our first house and moved out of the trailer park.
- April 2007: Graduated from BYU Law. GPA: no clue, grades still in the filing cabinet, still not looking.
- July 2007: Had another baby boy. Wanted in on Will's bday festivities and arrived 3 weeks early = no bar exam for me. Welcome Sawyer!
- February 2008: Took and passed Bar Exam. Hallelujah!
- May 2008: Sworn in - Officially a member of the Utah State Bar.
- October 2008: Started a very small secret shopping business for the BYU Bookstore
- June 2008 - December 2009: Stayed home with 2 boys and recovered from all of the above (okay, the last year and a half have been pretty uneventful!).

- Got a new president. Got tickets to the inauguration. Gave them to my brother who went but got stuck in the tunnel of doom.
- Celebrated Sawyer's 2nd birthday and Will's 4th birthday.
- Sawyer started really talking.
- Will started reading and spelling.
- Went to Connecticut and attended Kyle's wedding.
- Went to Texas.
- Went to Idaho for the first time since the ill-fated Christmas 2008 trip.
- Read a lot of books. Did some craft projects, started even more projects that I haven't finished. Started and almost finished the mural in Will's room that was supposed to be completed before Sawyer was born. Learned to bake bread and make that Thai green curry dish Bryce likes. Taught Will to ride his bike without training wheels. Did my church thing (and enjoyed it!). Celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. Turned 27. Did the daily stuff you do most days and then you add them up and a year has gone by!

- My firstborn starts preschool and then kindergarten.
- If my husband prevails we'll buy a new house. I don't want a new house. We shall see.
- Mollie graduates and goes who knows where for graduate school...taking my only in-state family and free babysitter with her.
- My 10-year High School reunion.
- My hubby turns 30! Let the party planning begin.
- Bryce and I have a one-time window of opportunity to leave the country without children. We'll see.
- Another great big we'll see.

By the end of this decade:

- Maybe we won't live in Utah. If Bryce and I can ever agree on anywhere else to go.
- There will be a teenager in the house! Aaahh!
- Not only will my firstborn have survived kindergarten, he'll be in high school! I need to go work on our college fund now...and finish painting his room.
- I'll be planning Bryce's 40th birthday party. I guess that would make us officially grown-ups.
- Who knows! Let's make it a happy decade, shall we?

This Decade In Memoriam:

September 11, 2001

2001 Not pictured:
Brittney McMurdie

Sarah E. LeFoll

Allison S. Morris

Ilene Adelaide Hunt Hurst

Dr. Gregory Gordon

Prof. Michael Goldsmith

So this is Christmas

We were able to have some family with us for Christmas after all. It was Megan's year to have Christmas with her inlaws, but her husband had to work until 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve so they weren't going to be able to make it to California in time for Christmas. They drove down on Christmas Eve and left early in the morning on the 27th to fly to California. It was nice to have someone besides ourselves here for Christmas though. The boys are old enough to be REALLY excited for Christmas this year, but it was nice to have company over the age of 4.

Last year my mom gave us The Elf on the Shelf. It is a book that tells the story of an elf who lives with you each December and reports back to Santa about the behavior of the kids in the house. It comes with a little stuffed elf. Every night starting on December 1 after the kids go to bed we hide the elf somewhere new and then in the morning they find it. Or that is the goal. More than once that silly elf forgot to hide somewhere new during the night. The Elf is also the source of our month-long threats. "Will, the elf is watching"..."Will, the elf just saw you take that away from Sawyer"..."Sawyer, the elf is going to tell Santa to put you on the naughty list." Will desperately wanted to help me make chocolates, but I told him he couldn't because he was sick and I didn't want him touching the food. He informed me "Ohhh...the elf is putting you on the naughty list: Doesn't let her kid help. That is naughty. Sorry, Mom. It's not my's Santa's rule!" Will has also been known to go in the other room so that the elf can't see him be naughty. The elf usually leaves with Santa on Christmas Eve, but I might have to make him a year round resident. Is it bad if my kids have an elf rather than a conscience?

This was the first year that we had the boys buy each other a Christmas present. I'm not sure how I was envisioning that playing out. I guess I pictured them happily choosing a gift that they would lovingly give to each other on Christmas Eve. It ended with Bryce dragging them both screaming out of the dollar store while I stood in line to pay for the things that I picked out for them to give to each other. Amazingly, they only wanted to choose things for themselves. And threw tantrums when I said they weren't buying toys for themselves. So that went well. The joy of giving. I think they've got that down.

Will wrote his own letter to Santa this year. Remind me next year to make him write it earlier. He wrote it on about the 23rd and, of course, nothing on his list bore any resemblance to the things he had been telling us he wanted Santa to bring him. We had to do some explaining on Christmas of why Santa didn't bring exactly the things he wrote on his list. For weeks Sawyer had been telling us that he wanted Santa to bring him "candy." So that was easy enough. Until the 23rd when he started saying that Santa was bringing him a monster truck. Bryce made a last minute lunch break trip to Target to solve that one. I figure, the Santa years are so short that you might as well do what you can to let them believe while it lasts.

Speaking of Santa, in our house all of the presents come from Santa. I know people do things different ways, but that is the way it always was in my house. I hadn't foreseen this causing difficulties until Will started asking what Mom and Dad were giving him for Christmas. He thought it was a little unfair that he was supposed to pick out a present for Mom and Dad, but Mom and Dad didn't have to give him anything. So Mom and Dad gave the boys their own pocket size copies of the Book of Mormon with their names on the cover. They were pretty excited to have their own scriptures (another advantage of youth...I'm sure scriptures won't always receive such an enthusiastic reaction).

I wasn't sure they would make it, but the boys survived to see Christmas Eve. Their excitement level had been rising throughout the entire month until I thought they'd either pass out, make themselves sick (they are my children after all), or bug me enough that they'd be permanently locked in their rooms. On Christmas Eve they put on a little nativity play...complete with a cat pillow as baby Jesus.
We sang some carols and read The Night Before Christmas. Then the boys opened their presents from their aunts and uncles and grandparents on my side (a tradition from my family to separate the family presents from the hustle and bustle of all the Santa presents on Christmas day). They stayed up to see Megan and Chad who arrived at about 9:30 and then we put them to bed at about 10:30. And we didn't hear from them until 8 a.m. Hallelujah!
Christmas was opening presents while Skyping with family in Connecticut, staying in pajamas until about 4 p.m., eating breakfast at 11:30, and all the other great Christmas stuff. Sawyer had a little freak-out in the middle of the present opening. He didn't want any presents and just cried and cried. I think he was a little overwhelmed and a lot tired. Then he snapped out of it and went on with the opening. That night Megan and Chad watched It's a Wonderful Life with me, thereby saving me from watching it by myself. The end of that movie gets me every time. You know, when everybody in town comes running in with the money. And crappy old Potter gets away with it every time, but it doesn't matter because he's just a miserable old man. Sigh. Please tell me you watch this movie.

Another benefit of having Megan and Chad here was that they got primary toy assembly duty. Of course, since I didn't assemble them in the first place I am going to be useless when it comes to the constant re-assembling throughout the year.

Here is a bonus picture of Christmas morning with my siblings. 1991: The year of the perm and New Kids on the Block.

From the south to the north

This post might have pictures someday, but I'd have to get them from my dad which would mean my brother would have to be in charge of sending them to me. Someday maybe.

My parents flew to Utah 3 days after we got back from Texas. That weekend I kissed my boys (big and little) goodbye and drove to Idaho with my mom, dad, and Mollie. We went to attend Megan's senior clarinet recital. She will be graduating from BYU-Idaho in April, but she is done with all of her classes and will spend the next semester student teaching. She had a piano accompanist and then her clarinet professor accompanied her on one song and a cellist accompanied her on another.

We arrived in Rexburg on Friday evening and went to check in to our hotel...the lovely Super 8. When my mom went to check in the clerk handed her a slip of paper explaining that "due to circumstances beyond their control" and "because of upgrades to the city's power system" the hotel would have no power from 7-11 a.m. the following morning. Being a little dazed we went up to check out the room. Once we looked around for about 2 minutes we figured out that there was no way we were staying there with no electricity. No electricity would have meant all 4 of us having to either shower with the bathroom door open (ummm...awkward) or having to shower in the pitch black. It also would have meant no heat and the high temperatures for the weekend were around 15 degrees. I made a few phone calls and found that there were plenty of rooms available in town, and, curiously, no one else had heard anything about "upgrades to the city's power system." I'm pretty sure the guy at one hotel I called thought it was some weird kind of prank call when I asked "Will you have electricity tomorrow?" There was a long pause and then he said "Umm...yes." I explained why I was asking and he just started laughing and said "Yeah, we'll have power." So not sure what was up with that.

We switched to a hotel that had heat. Unfortunately, the thermostat in our room appeared to be malfunctioning. We set it to 70, left the hotel, and when we came back it said it was 77 and the heat was still blowing. So then we turned it down, but it would randomly turn itself on. The heat was on all night long. We hear it was blowing right on my mom's face all night and she couldn't sleep...or so she told us...many times throughout the next day. Maybe the room temperature was trying to compensate for the lobby temperature. The hotel had a free breakfast and they had tables set up in the lobby. I don't think the lobby got above 50. We had to wear our winter coats to eat breakfast.

The next day we were out running some errands before Megan's recital and she said that she wanted a breakfast croissant from the drive-through at Jack in the Box. That proved to be a fateful request. We got in the drive-through and placed our order. Then we sat and sat and sat and sat. The drive-through had the restaurant on one side and a high wall on the other, so with a car in front of us and car behind us we were totally trapped. After 18 minutes Mollie got out of the car and tried to go inside to figure out what was going on. I say she "tried" to go inside because the door was locked. Some customer let her in and told her that the employees had said "they were really behind so they were just locking the doors." Mollie said the restaurant was full of people sitting around waiting for food. I'm not sure what was going on in the back. I think the cook was in a corner crying. Because no one inside had any food and no one in the drive-through was getting any either. So they locked the doors. Because apparently when the going gets tough in Rexburg you lock the doors and hide. After a good 20 minutes, the truck in front of us drove off. We pulled up to the window and the girl says "So you had the #2 and the #3?" No. We had a breakfast croissant. "Oh," she says. My dad hands her the money and she just looks at it and then looks around the kitchen helplessly. After about 3 minutes she was still just standing there with the money in her hand so my dad said "You know what, just give me the money back." Looking relieved, she handed the money back and we drove away. Just to make things more fun, while she was standing there with the money I noticed the little sign on the window with the customer service number exhorting me to call if we had any problems. So I call the number only to find out that their customer service system is only available on Monday-Friday from 9-5. It being Saturday their recording advised me to "call back on Monday." Touche Jack in the Box.

This is just kind of how Rexburg is.

Then Megan gave her recital which was lovely. And having a weekend with no one requiring that I wipe their rear end was lovely as well. I even ate a meal without getting up 25 times. While I was gone Bryce took the boys to their first ever movie in a movie theater. I thought it would blow Will's mind to see a tv screen that big, but I guess he wasn't overly impressed. They also went bowling, so the boys weren't too upset that I was gone.

On Sunday we drove back to Utah. My parents were here for another week or so. My dad, Sawyer, and I got a Christmas tree while my mom took Will to see The Princess and the Frog. I think he thought it was a little bit scary. My mom and the boys made cookies while I went to the mall with my dad. It was kind of an early Christmas celebration since it was my year to have Christmas with my family...only problem being my family was going to be in Connecticut and we were going to be in Utah. Which makes it a little hard to have Christmas with them.

Next stop, Christmas!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Everything's bigger? Really?

On November 20th we headed to Texas for an extended Thanksgiving break. We started out by flying to Midland, Texas where Bryce went to high school. Bryce was excited to get together with his friend Wes...but that smart man married a New Yorker and they were back east for the holiday. They very kindly let us stay at their house, however. Bryce was able to see some old friends. I got to eat some good food that I neither cooked nor cleaned up. (Eating out, the highlight of every vacation.) The boys got to play with other kids' toys. We all got to see 2 stuffed chimpanzees driving a zebra-drawn wagon. Who knows why.
Should you find yourself in Midland you can check it out in the Claydesta atrium - Claydesta being the name of an office building in downtown Midland. In case you are wondering, Midland, Texas is where baby Jessica fell down the well. She has since moved on. It is also the home of one of the teams featured in Friday Night Lights. They take their football seriously down there. And I mean frighteningly seriously. Bryce played football there so I have an inside source.
It is also (one of) the hometown(s) of George W. We saw a sign for some former residence of his, but we didn't check it out. So you can see that Midland is a pretty happening place.

New since Bryce lived there was the drive-in movie theater. We took the boys and saw Where the Wild Things Are and A Christmas Carol (the new one). Where the Wild Things Are was totally not worth it in my book. It is kind of a pretty movie to watch...but they took a kids' book and then had to come up with 1.5 hours of movie and did it pretty lamely in my opinion. Having a neglected-misunderstood-feeling child project his emotions and relationship problems onto a group of monsters just isn't that engaging. A Christmas Carol was really dark. Both literally and figuratively. I mean, I know the story, so I was fully expecting the ghosts and haunting visions of the past/future/etc...but Robert Zemeckis always brings in that creep factor. We spent a lot of time making lame jokes trying to keep the boys from having nightmares. Although Sawyer didn't seem to think it was scary. He kept saying "I like that mean guy! I love him!" whenever he saw Scrooge. Sawyer likes everyone and everything and everywhere...and every food. I think it was a bit scary for Will though. The boys both enjoyed playing on the swing set under the screen in the dark before the movie started, so they got the full drive-in experience. I wish drive-ins would make a come back. You can throw the kids in their pajamas, fill the car with treats, and not worry if the boys won't stop talking. Of course, you can't charge $7/person which is what they tried to do at home...because if I'm spending that kind of money I'm getting a babysitter and going to a real movie theater.


Here is the barren wasteland Midland itself. I'm pretty sure Midland, Texas is the exact opposite of my hometown of Cromwell, Connecticut. In every way possible.

(Picture courtesy of somebody whose road trip popped up in my google image search since I left my camera at home and we hadn't bought a substitute yet.)

After several days in Midland we traded in our rental car for a one-way rental car and headed to San Antonio. We got to San Antonio later than we had planned so we didn't see the Alamo or the river walk which were originally on our list. But we saw the Alamo the last time we were in town and I'm pretty sure it hasn't changed much so that was okay. And our real reason for going to San Antonio was to visit Sea World. After consulting with the boys about their life goals (Will wants to be a cowboy/pirate and Sawyer wants to be a lion), we decided we were fine to raid their college fund and hit up Sea World. Sawyer was free and Bryce and I got in at the kids' price thanks to an internet special, but even so our grand total for one day at Sea World was................$190...not including any food...and you can't bring in any food or beverage in case you were wondering. I had never been to Sea World so I think I was more excited about it and enjoyed it more than the boys.
We were there 5 minutes after the gates opened and spent the day running (literally, more than once) from show to show. We squeezed in the rest of the animals and the kid rides and fed the dolphins. At the end of the day we still hadn't seen the penguins so we took off to the other end of the park and, on our way, passed the entrance to the park's biggest roller coaster. Bryce ran in right as they closed the gates for the night. So he got to ride the roller coaster and I got to stay with my 2 feet happily on the ground and watch the penguins. Poor Sawyer was very unhappy that they wouldn't let him ride the Shamu coaster. It's not his fault he got the short genes! On our way out of the park the kid area was totally empty. We let Will take the opportunity to go on the Shamu coaster over and over. Earlier in the day we had only let him ride it once because there was a long line. Poor Sawyer just sobbed and sobbed saying "I want to ride Shamu!" over and over. After Will had gone about 3 times the kid guarding the line asked if Sawyer was mad because he wanted to go on the ride. I said "Yes, but they told us he was too short." The kid said "I'll let him go." Yay for minimum wage 15 yr-old employees! So Sawyer's dream came true and he got to ride the Shamu ride. Will was in the first car and kept his hands up the whole time. Sawyer held on tight, but enjoyed it. Mom was surprised that it was actually a lot bumpier and faster than it looked from the ground!

We left as they were closing the gates so at least we squeezed every dime out of our admission price. All in all, Sawyer seemed to enjoy the animals (no surprise there) and Will spent most of the day whining for popcorn or ice cream or whatever he saw other kids with (also no surprise). Will was a big fan of the rides though.
Highlights included feeding the dolphins - with the low light that Will couldn't reach far enough over the side wall of the tank to touch them..and you are ABSOLUTELY NOT allowed to try to hold him up so he could reach farther.
(This would be 2 seconds before we were told that Will HAD to be on his stomach. Sorry.)
Other highlight: arriving early and sitting in the front row for the Sesame Street Live show...except from our close vantage point Will very quickly figured out that they were people in costumes, but he was still pretty excited when Abby gave him a high five at the end. Other low light: Will fell in the middle of the hanging net playground area and got his arm stuck up to his shoulder. I was watching from below and thought he was just being weird. I walked up a ramp to say hi to him and saw that he was sobbing. I told him to hold still and that Dad was coming. And Dad was coming. But as I mentioned Will was in the middle of the very long suspended play area consisting of nets connected by small tunnels. So Bryce had to climb through the entire thing to get to him and then all the way back out. We had a little crowd gathered by the time he got rescued. Very exciting.
An employee offered to take our picture...the people behind us in line kept laughing and finally someone pointed out that Will kept putting his hands in his pants. Nice one Will.

Other random San Antonio event. We stayed at a new hotel that had only been open for 6 weeks (thanks to hotwire). It was nice, but they were still working out a few things. Like the printer in the business center which wasn't actually hooked up to any computers. We would never have noticed such a thing except that we needed to buy and print out our internet Sea World tickets. When you tried to print you just ended up creating a file on the computer instead. In attempting to figure out what happened and why nothing had printed I discovered an entire list of files that other people had created while trying to print things. Including people's airline tickets, receipts for internet orders, and a 20 page military document marked "classified." All viewable to whoever clicked on them. Whoops! I'm still negotiating a price for the return of the military documents. Just kidding. I deleted them. I'm pretty much a national hero now. And it didn't look like anything interesting anyways...not that I looked at them.

Next stop, Katy, Texas.
We got to Katy the night before Thanksgiving and met up with Bryce's parents and 2 sisters at his parents' house. We stayed at a hotel and I decided it was lovely to go back to a cleaned up room with nicely made beds every night. What? You say I could have a cleaned up room and nicely made beds every night at my own house? How much would that cost me?

We went to the Houston Aquarium (which also, randomly, features a white tiger exhibit) and rode the ferry on Galveston Island. The Island looks a little freaky with the remaining hurricane aftermath. We let the kids play on the beach for a bit until Will fell in and got soaked and wanted nothing more to do with the beach.
Another day, we got together with one of Bryce's friends from Midland that I also knew because he lived at the Glenwood (apt. complex in Provo) the same year Bryce and I did.

The Flagship Hotel with a quarter of the exterior wall missing and all the windows blown out. The pier also has a gaping hole in it...but I don't know if that was hurricane damage or done purposefully afterward so that you can't get out to the hotel ruins. And seriously, it looks like super creepy ruins out there in the water. Much creepier than this picture makes it look. (Picture courtesy the internetz and google image search.)

On December 1st we flew out of Houston and back to Salt Lake. And I'm now a big fan of the travel-size AquaDoodle. It was a hit. The kids did well on the plane and the only time Sawyer cried was when we landed. He kept yelling "Do it again! Do it again!" and refused to get off the plane. I was carrying his car seat so Bryce had to come back on and drag him off. I took enough Dramamine that I made the trip without wanting to die...but it makes me very sleepy and kind of loopy so my apologies to all the ladies that had to see me in action at our Relief Society Christmas dinner that evening! I don't think I was thinking very clearly. We got off the plane to discover that our car which we had left with friends wouldn't start. We tried jumping it for the next two days, but then my Dad flew into town and fixed it all up for us with a new battery which solved the problem. He didn't fly into town just to fix our parents came for Megan's senior recital. Which shall be the subject of the next post.

This post brought to you by the word "creepy" and its variations.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas to All...

And on that all a good night!

(Will was trying to prompt Sawyer on his line, which was to say "Happy Holidays," but he just said "Holiday" instead.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's beginning to taste a lot like Christmas.

cookie truffles

I've never made these before, but they are a winner in my book.
Front to back:
Nutter butter truffles dipped in chocolate
Mint Oreo truffles dipped in creme de menthe coating
Oreo truffles dipped in white chocolate
Golden Oreo truffles dipped in cherry coating

Take 1 pack of sandwich cookies and stick them in a food processor until you have crumbs. Mix crumbs with 1 pack of cream cheese. Roll into balls and chill. Dip in melted chocolate or candy coating. Keep chilled.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

5 more days...





And so is an update to this blog. As soon as I get the vacation pictures from Bryce. Any day now.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Yes, Virginia... well, actually...

Tonight when I put Will to bed I asked him what he was going to ask Santa for. Besides the fact that he wants everything he has ever seen on any commercial, he hasn't really given us any concrete ideas of what he is hoping to find under the Christmas tree. With no hesitation he replied "I want a 15-16 robot and it cooks all the food we eat, and cleans up all the stuff in my room, and cleans the whole house, and it puts the laundry away so fast, and it can turn on my fan and if it is dusty it cleans it, and if my shoes are dirty it cleans them, and it doesn't have a remote control, you just tell it what to do."

Dear Santa, that is what I want too.

I think we are going to be equally disappointed.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

I hope you had a great birthday Dad. I spent the day on an airplane with children...thinking about how much more fun it would be to be enjoying your birthday dinner and cake and presents with you! Sorry we missed you. Hope you heard our pathetic birthday singing on the answering machine. Will says he thinks you want "video games and a play station" for your birthday. He hasn't quite grasped that what other people would like is not always the same as what he would like.

In honor of your birthday I am not posting the picture of you and Kyle when you won The Amazing Dickerson Family Race last Christmas (you know...after taking the fast forward and going in the hot tub and then having to walk through the snow and then posing in towels in front of the fireplace). But just remember that I have it.

Happy Birthday! See you Thursday and we'll have a good time.

Erin, Bryce, Will and Sawyer